Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bill calls for closure of state-run institutions for disabled

State-run institutions that house developmentally disabled people are “relics of the past” and a significant drain on the state budget that state Sen. Scott Rupp targets in a bill that was pre-filed yesterday.

Rupp’s call for a study on how to close the state’s six remaining “habilitation centers” within five years and provide a plan for transitioning residents to community-based settings has strong support from Arc of Missouri, a grass-roots advocacy organization.

“The Arc feels that the institutional model is outdated,” said Mark Satterwhite, secretary of the state chapter of the national Arc organization. Satterwhite, who lives in Columbia, also is the program director for Boone County Family Resources, an agency that serves more than 1,300 children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Satterwhite said this morning that he was not speaking for Boone County Family Resources.

Les Wagner, Boone County Family Resources executive director, said he had not seen the bill and did not comment on the specifics of the proposed legislation.

“I think that people with disabilities have a right to live in the community and in their homes,” Wagner said. The biggest factor needed for successful living in the community is to provide support for families affected by a developmental disability. “If society helps to support them, many an unwanted out-of-home placement can be prevented,” he said.

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